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Meet the 2017 Oriental Town Candidates
3 incumbents and 4 newcomers vie for 5 Commissioner seats
October 18, 2017
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3. One hears it said we need more businesses in Oriental; what type of business(es) would you like to see?

Eric Dammeyer: I would like to see Oriental recover a pharmacy and participate in making an effort to get one in here. I look forward to the Piglet being part of the Town and having the Town consider a way to access that store by golf cart.

Charlie Overcash: In order to stimulate year around businesses, I believe we should encourage more tourist related businesses. This would bring more visitors to our great village. Many of those may chose to move here and, therefore, that would build a larger base of residents which would, in turn, result in more year around businesses.

Allen Price: I look for small businesses in or around Oriental that will employee a few people or bring people to Oriental for a need – Examples are a car wash, laundry mat, dry cleaners drop off, pharmacy, and/or team up with PCC and see what they have to offer. This traffic would help the local merchants, the needs of the community and generate revenue year round.

Dianne Simmons: Oriental is fortunate to have so many enterprises in such a small town and I urge everyone to support them. I am not opposed to more businesses in Oriental. I am a customer of almost every business in town – a frequent patron of quite a few of them. I try to do all of my shopping in Oriental, so I would personally like a drug store if the customer base would support it. I’m sure that more businesses will open as customer support grows.

David White: The Town needs to consider all types of businesses that wish to locate or set up facilities in Oriental. What types will be allowed is governed by the Table of Permissible Uses in the GMO and our local Ordinances, which encompass a broad range of businesses and services. With that said, improvements to our infrastructure (streets, waterways, harbor, communities, water accesses, etc.) only help to attract service industries and other types of business entities. We are a small community, but we have much to offer with our water vistas, great restaurants and bars, retail stores, waterways, wonderful sense of community, grocery store, hardware store, deli, post office, theater and many other services and facilities.

J. Martin Barrow: With the litany of possible businesses that might locate in Oriental, it would be difficult for me to identify or narrow the scope of the types of businesses we could support. However, I would put a local pharmacy at the top of the list. Before Denton’s Pharmacy closed, the pharmacy was convenient and it was nice to do business with people invested in Oriental.

We should develop and maintain an active ‘business-friendly’ environment, which encourages investments by new and existing businesses. The Board’s role is to ensure the type and scope of those businesses would be a positive addition to the town.

Gregory Bohmert: To preserve our small coastal fishing town, with a distinct country feel to it, we need to make sure small town country people can afford to live here and work here. In older pictures of Oriental, storefronts were noticeable with residences above the store. Oriental has been leaning towards a “Cottage Industry” economic for several years now. This concept of “Mixed Use” as well as other commercial opportunities is currently somewhat up in the air, during the ongoing proposed zoning changes. Besides our current fish houses and boat yards, no “industry” in their right minds would come to Oriental, we are too low to the water and too many things get wet in our hurricanes to jeopardize multi-million dollar enterprises. While I understand people don’t want Oriental to look like Bayonne New Jersey, I also get the feeling we do not want to look like “Cup Cake Connecticut” either. I have witnessed several upheavals concerning new business (Walmart) or current business expansion (Chris Fulcher) that have thrown Oriental into a knee jerk-reactionary flurry of new regulations. We can’t shape the future of the town with ever increasing regulations of “don’ts and cant’s”. We are a town of 800, but I have seen a rowdy crowd of 80 set in motion dramatic proposals for changes. As a town we should try to determine what areas of town we would like to see business flourish in, and to do that we need the input from at least 401 town residents to have a true consensus. I must admit that the participation of those 800 neighbors of mine, in town affairs, has diminished greatly in the past twenty-two or so years. So my hat is off to the gang of 80, they care, they get involved, and they speak their piece, and that I respect greatly. The trick will be to find the greatest consensus on just how we want business to be part of the Towns fabric, Only when we have that, can we chart the correct course within our zoning ordinances to encourage the types of business we want to come here, and realistically make it possible for them to flourish here. Our natural resources for business opportunities are; Agro-tourism, Transient Boating needs, local and in-state boating needs, boat charter and rentals, aqua-tourism / aqua-sport tourism, charter fishing, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, fine dining and laid-back living.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): Yes we need more businesses. Retail and Service Industry.

4. The Town has long discussed having a pedestrian/bicycle pathway near the headwaters of Whittaker Creek to connect two parts of town. What would you suggest be done?

Charlie Overcash: Since the town has a limited amount of money to spend on this project, we must actively pursue grant money to study, recommend and implement a pathway.

Allen Price: This has been on the drawing board for a long time and it is moving along very slowly. It will be very expensive for the town without a grant. I believe a TownDock article showed multiple paths that have been considered. One of these paths seems to be a good option. Recently the town manager and the Park and Rec committee reached out to the NCDOT. A representative visited Oriental and rode her bike around town. We have not heard back from them. I would be glad to listen to those interested in this project to discuss ways we can help and move it forward. We have three openings on the Park and Rec committee. Here is a chance for someone really interested in the bike path to get involved. I would enjoy working with them on this project.

Dianne Simmons: It’s a great idea and I support it. I am a cyclist myself and I would like to ride to Dolphin Point without having to get on highway 55 and Straight Road. I understand that there is a tentative plan in place and that some work has been done. I would suggest that a specific person or committee contact all those parties whose participation is necessary and hammer out an agreement. If that fails, we must seek a different plan.

David White: You are correct in that a bike path has been in the planning stages for many years. For this to become a reality, it needs to be elevated to a must-do project. As stated above, we have a limited budget and need to decide where those limited funds are to be spent. To make a bike path a reality, the Board, with public input, needs to vote to make this a priority, or not. If the vote is “no,” we move to other projects. If selected, the steps that need to be taken are: 1) develop a plan 2) determine the cost to complete, 3) build an implementation plan with steps or phases, 4) determine funding sources (grants, Town budget, private donations, business donations, etc.) and then finally construct.

J. Martin Barrow: I am in favor of developing bike and pedestrian trails and pathways. Like many, I enjoy both walking and biking and would like to see this project completed. The funding necessary to complete the pathway will need to be identified.

Gregory Bohmert: Most definitely not, the town has too many other concerns of much higher priority than biking trails. Grants are funny things in that they seldom pay for every nickel needed for whatever the grant is funding. And once something is build and becomes the responsibility of the town it must be maintained, insured and repaired, much like our collection of “Town Docks”. The additional cost continues to the town forever. If the project is so needed and such a good idea, then the town should grant a lease to a business to develop said great idea and turn a profit to the town or at least diminish the burden and keep taxes low as possible. I could see the town partnering with community groups that are so motivated they wish to bring the bike path project to fruition. The town could possibly use its expertise and experience in help facilitate the permitting and organizational process without indebting the town.

Eric Dammeyer: The Whittaker Creek pedestrian/bicycle pathway and other needed pathways, including golf cart access and safety, should be handled by a new committee appointed by the Town Board for that sole project, so that this concept is brought forward at a better pace by people who have volunteered to make it happen. It needs to be safe and it needs to get done.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): We must get a committee together and work on this project. Once designed then we must apply for a grant.

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Posted Wednesday October 18, 2017 by Allison DeWeese

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